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Reissue Review: Powerlord – The Awakening

In 1986, a lot of bands were in the right place at the right time. Unfortunately, Oklahoma City’s Powerlord wasn’t one of them. Even during metal’s golden age it was difficult to gain credibility outside of your local scene if you didn’t know the right people in Los Angeles or New York City. As a result, several bands, including Powerlord, fell through the cracks and their works were lost to the sands of time. Or so it was thought. Thanks to the efforts of Shadow Kingdom Records, Powerlord’s sole album The Awakening has been unearthed for our listening pleasure.

Album opener “Masters of Death” makes it pretty clear that you’re in for a meat-and-potatoes heavy metal album. All of the simple elements (speed, riffs, solos, high pitched shrieks) soon make themselves known, but at no point does it feel forced or sound boring. Vocalist Dane Cook is clearly a student of the Halfordian form but he never tries to sound like Halford, which not only gives the presentation a natural sound but also keeps the album from veering into generic territory.  As the album picks up speed on “Malice,” you may find yourself questioning why this track isn’t a staple of 80’s metal playlists. Even though Powerlord draws from the same heavy/speed primordial ooze as Exciter and Griffin, they still know how to thrash their way around a song. Bassist Brian Massey and drummer Bob Gourley set guitarist Tony Gourley up for a dynamic solo around the two minute mark that gains in intensity throughout the song’s middle passage. The gang vocals at the end of the song gives “Malice” an anthemic quality. One could easily conclude that Powerlord designed this song to be a hit.

The same can be said for side A closer “Silent Terror.” Relenting on speed but not consistency, “Silent Terror” is easily the most well-written song on the album. Another sleek guitar solo dominates the majority of the song, complementing a six-minute demonstration that simplicity doesn’t equal stupidity. “The Invasion of the Lords” and “Merciless Titans” keep side B moving along. Album closer “(The Awakening) Powerlord” proves itself effective, condensing the best elements of the album in its final burst and ending on a pleasing note.

Standout Tracks

“Malice”
“Silent Terror”
“(The Awakening) Powerlord”

The Awakening is now available on cassette for the first time from Rapid Fire Records.

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